Construction dots university skyline

There’s the running joke that ‘Toronto will be a nice city once it’s done’ in reference to the construction cranes dotting the Big Smoke’s skyline. And the way things are going at Western, that same analogy could work here.

With a number of building projects on the go, it’s safe to say its an exhilarating time of growth and development at the university.

“These are very exciting times at Western,” said Roy Langille, associate vice-president of Facilities Management. “When I first started here, rumour had it that construction was starting to slow down. Four years and a couple of hundred million dollars later, we are still going strong. It seems like there is something new everyday.”

And don’t expect the work to stop any time soon.

A number of projects are already underway, or will shortly during this school year, including the modernization and expansion of Talbot College; conversion of the Thames Hall pool to classrooms and gathering space; renewal of the current Richard Ivey School of Business facility for other purposes; renovation of the second floor of the Dental Sciences building; renovations of the Braine and Mind Institute space in the Natural Sciences building; and a number of renovations and upgrades to the University Community Centre.

Here’s an update of where current projects stand:


Rising up from the ground on the Althouse College north parking lot – south of Sarnia Road and west of Western Road – construction of the new 1,000-bed student residence is creeping on nine-months of work.

Work on the five-storey, $90M building is progressing well, with completion on schedule of the first phase (600 Units) – including central services block and food services – by August 2013. Progress is proceeding on a staged basis, with blocks A and B already started with interior drywall, blocks E and F are still in the concrete forming stage, while roofing has started on blocks B and D with the masonry will start on exterior within two weeks.

Site services will start as soon as the cranes disappear from site, and it is anticipated that most services will be complete before winter.


Brescia University College’s new residence and dining pavilion, which will sit between Ursuline Hall and the St. James building, is beginning to take shape. The complex, with plans to open its doors in September 2013, is progressing well and is on schedule.

Masonry wall construction for the second floor south wing and third floor north and west wings are underway. Mechanical and electrical rough-in work continues, while metal stud wall construction has started on the second floor north and west wings. In total there will be space for 300 students, up from the college’s current 190 beds.


The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Department of Family Medicine will have a new place to call its own next summer. Located at the corner of Windermere Road and Richmond Street, the $17-million, four-storey building will consolidate research and academic activities for the department and feature large classrooms and small breakout rooms with state-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities.

Underground services and foundation are complete and the construction of the concrete staircases and shafts are underway.

The third floor will be a shelled-in floor, with the idea of accommodating future growth if additional funds and/or needs arise.


With Ivey’s highly regarded undergraduate program growing 40 per cent over the past three years – and expected to double in size by 2013 – the $110-million building located along Western Road finally brings all Ivey programs under one roof.

Phase 1 of the 234,000-square-foot, three-storey facility was substantially completed and has been occupied since August 2011, with eight 80-seat classrooms and three 60-seat classrooms; second- and third-floor administration offices and dean’s suite; an auditorium to be available this month; and a main floor with a great hall.

Phase 2 is currently underway, with all concrete and steel structural work completed. Work is progressing well on the exterior stonework and curtain walls with the intent to close the building by the end of October. The projected substantial completion date is end of May 2013.


The world’s first experimental facility to study the 3D effects of wind has made landfall at Western, with a completion date set for the second quarter of 2013.

The Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Dome (WindEEE) is under constructed at the Advanced Manufacturing Park on Veteran’s Memorial Parkway. The structure’s inner hexagonal dome will measure 25 metres in diameter and the outer return dome will measure 40 metres. For the first time, laboratory tornado-like flows will be able to simulate the equivalent of F3 Fujita scale intensity winds.

All concrete work and steel structure is ready to go, with the dome roof cladding progressing well to be closed by October. The progress on the fabricating of the inner dome is proceeding well and the upper plenum, although completed in time, has been rescheduled for hoisting into place this week. All other fabricated components are ahead of schedule.


The main focus of research at the Fraunhofer Project Center @ Western will be fibre composites for lightweight construction in various markets – especially the automotive sector. Work will be oriented particularly towards the needs of the regional North American market.

Construction, which began this past March, includes a one-storey building that houses the main entrance, laboratory, bathrooms and mechanical/electrical rooms, and a high steel construction building that will house the process equipment and the 2,500-ton hydraulic press.

Both buildings are complete and equipment installation is underway, to be fully operational by mid-September.